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Course Catalog

Homicide Investigation: Seeking Justice and Finding Truth


  • Linda R. Netzel
    Director of Kansas City Police Crime Laboratory

  • Lisa Mayhew, MS
    Death Investigator, North Carolina Office of the Chief Medical Examiner
  • Everett C. Babcock
    Cpt., Kansas City Police Department, MO

This is a comprehensive course on how to investigate homicides and other suspicious deaths. Through the use of classroom lectures, video segments, photographs, case study exercises, and hands-on practical exercises, attendees will be provided with a thorough education in the specific techniques involved in these types of investigations. Taught by instructors with extensive backgrounds in death investigations, this course will cover such topics as initial response and securing the scene, crime scene search methods, obtaining search warrants, identifying and preserving forensic evidence, witness interviews, suspect interrogations, report writing, and testifying. The course will also discuss suicides, death investigations involving children, and the capabilities of forensic evidence analysis. Throughout this course an emphasis is placed on protecting constitutional rights, seeking the truth, avoiding false confessions, and respecting the victim’s family. This course is intentionally designed for law enforcement officers from all sizes of agencies that might be tasked with a death investigation.

Course Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this course, the attendee should be able to:

  • Identify when a death investigation is no longer a murder investigation
  • List the three ways in which all death investigations begin
  • List the three primary duties of the first officers at a crime scene
  • List the 5 stages of decomposition.  
  • Identify the most perishable item at a crime scene.
  • List the four stages of handling a crime scene.
  • List the four situations that constitute “exigent circumstances”
  • List the three documents needed for the application for and execution of a search warrant.
  • List the four requirements of a search warrant.
  • List the 5 steps of the observation process
  • Describe how to document a crime scene
  • List the three parts of the crime scene report narrative
  • List the three crime scenes that will be involved in every crime of violence
  • List the five “stages of grief”
  • List possible reasons for staging and altering a crime scene
  • List the three things to look for in hanging deaths
  • Identify the manner of death in an autoerotic strangulation / asphyxiation death
  • List the three significant elements in a “plain view doctrine” seizure
  • Identify when Miranda is required
  • Understand the potential for physical evidence
  • Understand the principles of transfer and persistence of physical evidence
  • Understand methods of locating, documenting, preserving, and collecting physical evidence
  • Understand associative and reconstruction evidence
  • Understand laboratory capabilities and craft an effective analysis request
  • Understand the use of databases for DNA, fingerprints and ballistics
  • Understand emerging technologies and finding expertise beyond your laboratory
  • Identify the five stages of successful interviews and interrogations
  • Describe how to approach any interview with the goal of obtaining truthful information
  • Describe how to defend statements or confessions made by a suspect
  • Describe the most common mechanisms found in child homicides
  • Identify typical pitfalls and challenges when dealing with crime scenes of murdered children
  • Develop strategies for maximizing investigative strengths and reducing weaknesses


Course Outline:

  • Fundamentals of Death Investigations
    • Responsibilities upon approach and arrival
    • Recognition of signs of death and types of injuries
    • Legal authority upon arrival at a crime scene
    • How to properly secure and protect a crime scene
    • Legal authority to contact and detain subjects at crime scene
    • The role of trace evidence at a crime scene
    • How to avoid crime scene cross contamination
    • The four stages of handling a crime scene
    • Recognition of threats to the crime scene
    • Proper area canvassing methods
    • Legal issues pertaining to entry / processing a crime scene
    • Investigation of apparent suicides
    • Issues relating to suspected staged crime scenes
    • Issues related to obtaining and serving search warrants at crime scenes
  • Homicide Scene and Evidence Processing
    • Potential for physical evidence
    • Principles of transfer and persistence of physical evidence
    • Locating, documenting, preserving, and collecting physical evidence
    • Associative and reconstruction evidence
    • Laboratory capabilities
    • Effective analysis requests
    • Databases for DNA, fingerprints and ballistics
    • Emerging technologies
  • Interviews and Interrogations
    • Preparation and planning
    • Engage and explain
    • Account
    • Closure
    • Evaluate
  • Child Homicide Investigations
    • Common mechanisms of child homicides
    • Challenges with crime scenes of murdered children
    • Strategies for maximizing investigative strengths
    • Strategies for reducing investigative weaknesses
  • Conclusion Exercise Case Study

Upcoming Training

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Homicide Investigation

  • “This course was one of the best & most informative courses I have ever taken. Capt. Babcock’s expertise in the course matter is excellent.’

-Deputy, Florida

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